It’s become increasingly apparent that Google is placing more value in the local business, as we have watched the local listings take up more and more space on Page 1. At this point, it should be a no brainier that if you have a local business, you should be setting it up on Google Places (discussed more in depth here). It’s a simple process to complete and one that seemingly does not need to be given any more time than the few minutes it takes to set up, but also one that will be worth spending a few extra minutes to brand as most as possible.
While taking the time to choose the best photo and making sure any and all contact information is included and accurate may not seem worth it, because who’s really going to see that anyways? The answer is hopefully everyone soon. It seems that Google has begun to make some changes with local results, by listing them as a scrolling bar as seen here:
Just like that, the image you threw in there as quick place holder has become the first impression of your brand to thousands of searchers. And even though that quick picture you took of your outside store front seemed to make sense at the time, it now could now actually deter a potential customer from visiting both your site and your store.
While taking the time to get professional images of your business taken and uploaded is a great start, it really is just a start. An interesting feature of this new search bar is that once you click on the image, it does not take you directly to the site itself, but to new search results of that specific business as well as its Google profile snap shot:
So what does this mean exactly? You’re web presence has become that much more important. While positive reviews have also been important, they have now turned into a necessity. And just as you put in the time to make sure that your brick and mortar is presentable, the same time should be spent online as well. Monitoring reviews as well as regularly checking what’s coming up on Page 1 when your business name is searched are now essential parts in knowing how you are being presented as a business.
While these search changes still seem to be in the beta stages, and may continue to be altered, it is a clear indication in the direction Google is going. Internet marketing should now be a priority for any business that wants to compete in today’s world. Whether you enlist the services of a company like SEOhaus or decide it can be done in house, it is a part of your business plan that should be given thought.